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Print 30 comment(s) - last by Trisped.. on Jul 5 at 11:18 AM

The free alternative to Microsoft Office just got better

OpenOffice.org has released version 2.0.3 of its popular open-source office suite. OpenOffice has found a number of fans due to its relatively heavy number of features and its price tag: $0.

The new version adds a number of new features and performance enhancements including up to a 23% performance increase in Calc, better compatibility with Microsoft Office, email integration, more powerful PDF integration and improved Mac OS X support. There are also a number of security fixes in this latest release so users of the office suite are encouraged to download this update immediately.

You may recall Microsoft previously blasted OpenOffice for its "antiquated" user interface and poor performance compared to its upcoming (and oft-delayed) Office 2007 suite. For those not bothered by Microsoft issues with OpenOffice, you can download v2.0.3 directly here or you can grab it via BitTorrent.





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Other clear advantages
By Tsuroerusu on 7/2/2006 4:08:56 PM , Rating: 3
Besides being free (Both in the "Free Software" sense and in the zero price sense), OpenOffice uses an open standard to save documents, so that you will always be ensured compatibility, and not have to trash all your documents in 7 years because Microsoft won't support their old crappy formats.

It's very ironic to me that Microsoft says negative things about a product that is just as good as their's for most people's needs, but is also Free Software, uses an open standard for saving stuff, and costs ehhh, NOTHING, that's right NOTHING!! :P




RE: Other clear advantages
By Ralph The Magician on 7/2/2006 4:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
However, the simple fact that Microsoft Office doesn't support OpenDocument will ensure that such open standards are never really "compatible", since, whether you like it or not, Microsoft Office IS the standard.


RE: Other clear advantages
By phatboye on 7/2/2006 4:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
With openoffice's hefty price tag ms won't be the standard for too long.

To be honest, as much as I dislike MS as a company, I like MS office more than I do openoffice. I like it so much that I would be willing to pay for it so that I could have it on my desktops. If MS would lower their prices I would even consider buying a copy of office 2006 when it is released. But there is no way I'm paying more for Office software, software that I rarely use, than I do for my graphics card, something that I use all the time. Esp. if openoffice is free. MS had better start lowering their prices because openoffice is here to stay and even though openoffice isn't that great as MS office it's $0 price tag means that the only thing I have to loose from switching from MS to openoffice is an empty wallet.


RE: Other clear advantages
By kelmon on 7/2/2006 4:53:04 PM , Rating: 2
Standards change when the competition offers clear advantages. I'm not saying that OpenOffice is there yet (I'm not a regular user), but what I am saying is that complacency has a habit of coming around to bite you. With businesses looking to make each Dollar/Pound/Yen/etc go that much further, free office software is going to look mighty tempting when it gets to be good enough.


RE: Other clear advantages
By derdon on 7/2/2006 5:05:27 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft doesn't like it, but OpenDocument is the way to go. The time when MS could do what they wanted are over. Governments and administrational bureaus all over the world are thinking about switching and some have already done. Sure, some will not and that's perfectly okay.
Let's hope they're not pulling an Adobe/PDF. I think they got a taste of that medicine only recently ;)

The OpenDocument Foundation recently announced a plugin for MS Office that will provide OD support, so... that's a start.


RE: Other clear advantages
By carl0ski on 7/3/2006 8:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Let's hope they're not pulling an Adobe/PDF. I think they got a taste of that medicine only recently ;)


I feel Comfortable it will stay

Novell has some weight behind it Novell and Adobe seem to be very cosy
This might have triggered Adobe stab at PDF in Office row

hell Novell solely convinced Adobe to improve Acrobat Reader for Linux,


RE: Other clear advantages
By SEAWOLF607 on 7/2/2006 4:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have used Open Office and Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office trounces O.O. in performance. For me that is more than enough reason not to use it because I hate having to always wait around on a word processor to load of all things.


RE: Other clear advantages
By bob661 on 7/2/2006 5:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I hate having to always wait around on a word processor to load of all things.
Why is this a problem? I don't know about you but I launch Word or whatever, do my work, then close Word. It only opens once and the slightly slower launch time is not a really big deal.


RE: Other clear advantages
By Zirconium on 7/2/2006 7:25:53 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe he works differently than you. Have you considered that? Some people open up office, work on a document, close office, and open it up to work on a second document. Granted, this is not the best way of doing it, but many people do not notice the little "X" to close the document without the entire program. So if OpenOffice is not resident in your memory, opening and closing it all the time will take a while, especially on older hardware.


RE: Other clear advantages
By psychobriggsy on 7/3/2006 6:08:54 AM , Rating: 2
So the issue is actually with Windows and the default "Quit Application when closing the last window" behaviour that made sense in 1995 when we all had under 16MB of RAM, but now makes very little sense. In those terms, Apple now has it right with their "Keep application running until explicitly quitting" behaviour, even if that wasn't ideal until a few years ago..

Application startup time is a noticable annoyance, but really has minimal effect on the overall amount of work done. A poor UI will however, and I don't believe that OpenOffice will get around to improving it significantly, whilst the next Office's UI promises to work quite well.


RE: Other clear advantages
By mindless1 on 7/4/2006 4:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
Run OpenOffice Writer or Calc then close it. Open it again. They open in a fraction of a second, possibly almost 1 second if the Quickstarter is shut down. If you blink you will miss it. This is considering the 2nd, 3rd, etc, subsequent runs so it was cached in memory.

Didn't matter on any reasonably modern and properly working system, it's fairly pointless to leave it open instead of closing it unless the next use session was already anticipated.


RE: Other clear advantages
By Trisped on 7/5/2006 11:18:27 AM , Rating: 2
You imply that MS Office can't open old files, but I have never had a problem, even when we were running DOS based computers in one room and the latest build of Windows in the other.

Having an open document format doesn't mean anything about future support. It just means that more people will be able to open and read the files. If Microsoft was to do the same thing I would be pretty happy, but it would also open the program up to security loop holes previously undiscovered. There is good and bad in everything I suppose.


By devolutionist on 7/2/2006 5:01:34 PM , Rating: 3
I've been using OO at home for about a year and a half now, and for home users, it does 99% of what you need. The only thing that's really missing for home users is the rich set of templates and "wizards" that MSO has. That's it.

Now, for office workers, that's another matter. Calc simply can't do the heavy lifting that Excel can, and doesn't have as complete of a set of functions. I couldn't use OO at work right now. I'm not sure though that Base isn't as good as Access.

Finally, where all OO apps DO trounce MSO though, is in PDF support.

Currently I advocate friends and home users that I talk to to give OO a try. Can't do that for office users yet though.




By smitty3268 on 7/2/2006 5:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
I agree 100%. For businesses, the MS compatibility, Calc, Impress, and Base aren't good enough yet. For most home users, though, I don't see much of a reason to pay out $500 when you can get OOo for free.


By smitty3268 on 7/2/2006 5:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to add, for a lot of businesses the most important part of MS Office is Outlook, which doesn't really have a free alternative yet.


By derdon on 7/2/2006 5:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's correct. OpenOutlook is probably quite a long route. Especially with all the 3rd party support for MS Outlook.


By secretanchitman on 7/2/2006 7:47:43 PM , Rating: 2
so get a third party email...check it online, use outlook express, or just use mozilla thunderbird. if you run mac, great, use the built in email program or thunderbird.


By smitty3268 on 7/2/2006 10:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly what I mean - you suggest to use Thunderbird, which is great for personal use (its what I use), but for many businesses that is just unacceptable. It doesn't even have a good calendar (yet) let alone all the 3rd party proprietary stuff Outlook has, like VOIP integration.

Kontact and Evolution are at least close to Outlook feature-wise, but are still only available on *nixes and wouldn't have any 3rd party stuff either.


By orezedoc on 7/3/2006 6:22:49 AM , Rating: 2
Check our EssentialPIM - there is a free version and a pay version with Outlook synchronization

www.essentialpim.com


By dilz on 7/2/2006 8:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'm right there with you. I've been using OO since the last version was released. My friends were giving me crap for using a copy of MSO2K3, so I made the switch to OO just to spite them.

The only problem I have is that I keep forgetting how to set the margin sizes because the menus are set up differently. Other than that, I notice a slight glitch with the way OO renders text. The character spacing is not as appealing as MSO's. Those two annoyances aside, I have not reason to ever need MSO because OO (so far) has been able to open files from Windows, Linux and Mac-based document software.

As you said, as a stand-in for users of Word and perhaps some light Excel tasks, OO is an excellent alternative to MSO for home users.

I'll go get the file now...


By jtesoro on 7/3/2006 2:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
I use MS Office in the office and OO at home. My wish list for OO includes support for password protected Excel files. OO has its own (and I believe much more secure) encryption mechanism, but the need to open the occassional protected Excel file from home gives me a lot of aggravation.


By drxploder on 7/3/2006 3:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. As a primary word user myself, openoffice is all I need. The only reason I'm using office right now is cause I have the 2007 beta from MS. While it's a beta and has its bugs it still offers great functionality.

However, when I build computers for family openoffice always goes on. If you're a browser/emailcheck/occasional writer, Openoffice is great.


By mindless1 on 7/4/2006 4:37:23 AM , Rating: 2
It's fine for a large business too. People act as though business needs have radically changed, somehow magically in accordance to what each new version of MS Office offers. That smells suspiciously like MS-shill-speak to me, many businesses aren't using the latest version of Office right now, let alone having any desire to move to office 2007. They don't really have a desire to move to OpenOffice either but if/when it is time to make a full scale switch, MS Office's high cost is a big issue. Businesses are often looking to cut out unnecessary expenses and find that employees have enough spare time to fiddle around, surf the net, etc, and certainly enough to retrain on another office suite.


Too little too late
By RyanLM on 7/2/2006 4:58:21 PM , Rating: 3
Well, if OO was releasing version 6 or 7, that might just end up with a product that could rival Office System 2007.

It really feels old school when you use it, it looks like some share ware product you would find on the net. I think that while the open source community has programming talent they have NO concept of what actually looks good and how that translates to ease of use.




RE: Too little too late
By derdon on 7/2/2006 5:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
That's not true. I've got version 2 for quite a while now and it's a good piece of software. Writer actually looks a lot more polished than MS Word does. Calc is about on par with Excel (the only "major" thing missing is probably the ability to add a regression curve in diagrams). Perhaps Impress is slightly inferior to PowerPoint, but then I had no problems preparing and showing a presentation, so it's perfectly usable.
What really kicks is the PDF support in OpenOffice. With MS Office you have to rely on plugins and last time I tried to use them, the output was unsatisfying.

Of course, if someone needs a scripting language like VBA, then OpenOffice is the wrong suite. At least until they've finished VBA support (which they're working on already).


RE: Too little too late
By RyanLM on 7/2/2006 11:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
What color is the Sky in your world?


RE: Too little too late
By ceefka on 7/3/2006 9:35:02 AM , Rating: 2
If you worry about PDF support on MS Office you can always use pdfonline. Internet access is required, though. It's not as slick as the implementation in OO.



RE: Too little too late
By mindless1 on 7/4/2006 4:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but never have I cared if it looked good so long as it was usable. MS Office was actually better with '97 edition and went downhill from there, IMO.

YOu might be horrbily confused about looking good translating into ease of use, if anything Office and Windows both become far harder to use for those experienced with them but rather stupified everything for a beginner. Result was same tasks take longer for most people- those who had already spend the first 2 mintues to learn and were than spending the years actually using it.

Office 2007 would have to be what the senseless use, since everyone already has Office it would be really crazy to repay to do the same tasks. Of course there will be 5% of the populace that actually needs some new features but everyone else won't.


By designmark on 7/2/2006 9:42:41 PM , Rating: 3
While the direct comparison, feature for feature, will exist between OO and MSOffice considering OO's lofty goals, I would hope people will realize the advantages of OO over MSOffice are not in wiz-bang features or even "performance" (as vague as that is). The advantage is the creation of a standard that can grow and develop independent of any corporate entity, and vast accessibility due to a low or no cost. I've often read blogs and such where people tout open source development as being superior to closed due to how fast bugs are fixed, new features added, etc. In the 6 years I've been following Linux and other projects related such as KDE (and its apps) and OO, I've found the opposite to be true. However, I do like OO very much, especially Writer, which for me is an acceptable alternative in almost every way to Word. True, it starts up slower and "feels" sluggish much of the time - but it does a great job and now that I've gone to the effort of getting to know it, I don't miss Word. I can't say the same for Calc, since I use the protection features in Excel, and pivot table reports. No, they absolutly are not as good in Calc, not even close to as usable. But I still think Calc if fine 95% of what I do. I just love Excel too much to give it up yet (and I've tried). I wish there was a way for the development of OO to catch up with Office - but that would most likely involve a, "cough", cost associated with it to actually pay for more additional developers. Which I think would kill it. I'll keep using it however, and hope for the best in the future. And a donation it a great idea for all of us to think about - it’s easy to do and right on their website under support/monetary donation. Cheers!




PDFs
By HackSacken on 7/3/2006 10:33:46 AM , Rating: 2
While I am not pro OO or MS Offic suite, I will point out that MS Word 2007 does have the ability/option to save a document as a .pdf file. I have not done enough research to see if this is only while both Adobe Reader and MS Office 2007 installed, or if you can do it just with MS Office 2007. But either way, no more Adobe Professional is needed to create .pdf. However, I was not able to open the .pdf file using Word to edit the text.




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